Back to square one as Flowers goes

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Tim Flowers arrived at The Hive on a wave of optimism, to be the man that would bounce the Bees back up the National League table after replacing Peter Beadle. Indeed the two men who’ve occupied the Barnet dug out this season have one thing in common, they both lasted a similar amount of time.

Three months ago, Flowers arrived with the Bees just outside the bottom three, Beadle having been sacked after a 6-0 thumping at Chesterfield. The ex-Solihull Moors boss was originally been thought to have interviewed in the summer for the job but lost out to the former Bees striker and subsequently pitched up at Macclesfield Town only to not manage a game before they went bust.

And now here we are with Flowers and Barnet ‘mutually’ parting ways with the club under both managers now on a run of one win in the last 21 games. Flowers record itself in just over three months is one win in 12 games, 11 of those in the National League, Beadle’s record prior to that in all games was four wins in 16 games, only two of those victories came in the league.

Once again as a club Barnet are in familiar territory, struggling and manager less although if you know the club well enough by the time you actually read this there is likelihood of a new man in the home dugout.

What went wrong for Flowers? Well, what went right really! At the beginning his interviews were all about knowing it was a big challenge and that’s why he was there. I don’t think he underestimated the challenge but a lot more to it and now today we’re here with three different sets of players within one squad, some of whom have played three different styles of play in 12 months.

When Flowers was appointed I knew what the style would be, get it forward quick and play off the second ball, the question was always going to be whether the personnel were there to play that way or enough players could be brought in to suit the change in play. The answer in the end was neither, the players brought in haven’t blended with those already at The Hive and the style didn’t produce results, the stats tell us enough.

We have the bizarre situation of six loan players with only five of them allowed in a matchday squad, with one of those extended for a further month which appeared just to cover a further signing’s suspension carried over from his previous club.

A bloated squad of 34 professionals at the last count has seen some now placed on the furlough scheme, something which a lot of clubs are now doing in the National League, but it doesn’t sit right with me nor a lot of other people at Barnet or any other club. I hope most of those in the 34 are not contracted beyond this summer in which we will head towards another rebuild under yet another manager.

Having watched his interview after Tuesday night’s defeat to Wrexham, his body language was evident to say before a word was spoken that he had run out of ideas to get something from this bunch of players. Some have mentioned he had lost the dressing room, his constant tool of battering the players in the post-match interview didn’t go down well. Did he need to try and adapt his style to fit the players he had and could get?

To constantly concede goals from set pieces and crosses suggests the players either stopped listening or technically aren’t good enough to carry out instructions given to them during the week. Teams worked out very quickly how to beat us and it hasn’t stopped happening despite the influx of new players.

Whilst at times and very sporadically the team have looked more secure at the back, it evaporates as soon as they go a goal behind and then collapse, the stats as stated above don’t lie and in 24 league games this season the side have conceded three or more goals on nine occasions, a goal difference of minus 41 is well in excess of anyone else in the league.

Two loan strikers who have yet to find the net tells its own story as does just 18 goals in those 24 games, that end of the pitch provided no improvement under Flowers reign indeed only seven goals scored with two of those coming in the only win over FC Halifax.

So where do we go now then? As expected names are in the frame despite it surely looking like the poisoned chalice from the outside. There are plenty of out of work managers out there, but would you risk your reputation on a club that has gone through 25 managers since 2010?

In a way it’s a no lose situation for an incoming manager given the current position to try and turn it around but still a big ask for anyone worth their salt. I can’t imagine there is budget space left for any more players to come in so whoever is charged with the task will have to get a tune out of the 34 players on the books.

My personal opinion would be a caretaker until the season ends in May, can we afford to get it wrong again and sack or mutually dispense of another manager after a bad run of defeats if it comes to that? But if we go down that route, we must be ready on that first Monday after the season ends to appoint the new man, get the retained list out and start planning, not follow what we did this year and create the mess we are now deep in.

The fanbase is fractured once again, a small way to start yet another repair would be a former player or manager of the club in charge, someone who understands what Barnet FC are about. It will however take a lot more than this to get people back onside and caring about the club again, I think if I remember rightly 12 months ago people did care and enjoy it under that particular manager.

And all that comes down to one man. We can speculate the full cost of the decisions made since August it must be more than the anticipated outlay expected for 2020-21 in total. That could have been avoided from day one, I can’t say for sure we would be enjoying a fruitful campaign but I don’t think it would a relegation threatened time and most would accept that under the pandemic conditions mid-table was acceptable.

And before I get to finish the blog this evening, they pop up and announce Paul Fairclough has stepped in to ‘technically advise’ for the trips to Bromley and Stockport. Of course no stranger to the club as the 2004-05 title winning manager returns to The Hive but after a very long period out of game, surely is nothing more than a favour to Tony Kleanthous? Maybe Martin Allen didn’t answer the phone this time?

So far it hasn’t inspired Bees fans across social media and I believe that all this does is buy the chairman a week or so to evaluate the next step. As above I still believe this should be a caretaker role for someone with 18 games to go after these next two games but the next steps must be very robust in its thinking.

Names will of course be linked, Aaron McClean who had a spell here a few years ago and highly thought of as an up and coming coach, Harry Kewell, the return of Ian Hendon, Dean Brennan who appeared to turn us down before Flowers arrived and of course Darren Currie for a dramatic return.

One last thing to finish on. Tony, pick a philosophy and stick with it please. You might like going round in ever decreasing circles but as supporters we don’t and it has to change. Not everything can be done on the cheap and I think we deserve better, we’ve discovered over the last 12 months football is nothing without its fans, it has to be right this time before you lose the very people here to be entertained…………

Wrexham add to Barnet woes

NB This was written before Tim Flowers departure from Barnet on Wednesday afternoon, blog to come on that.

Tuesday night’s seem to come around fast every week but when the expectation for your team is to keep the score under three goals against they need to come around a little more slowly.

Twelve months ago I was stood in the rain on the terraces at Woking’s Kingfield Stadium, having witnessed the closest to a complete performance from Barnet FC as they ran out 3-1 winners and carrying a charge which was looking to be play-off bound.

That was to be my last live game watching the Bees last season and the final league game they played of the 2019/20 season although points per game calculations did of course send them into the play-offs but no promotion.

Twelve months later, another Tuesday night game but a far cry from that night is unfolding at The Hive as Wrexham were the latest visitors aiming to leave with three points. As I stated above I go into games hoping we keep the score below three goals, that’s exactly how much faith I have in a performance currently.

Having cast a glance over the Red Dragons on Saturday evening away at Sutton, I was slightly more hopeful that we wouldn’t gain a drubbing but you can’t rule anything out.

Tim Flowers went with a formation match-up, 3-5-2 a system he tried earlier in the season which struggled to work with the personnel at the club. Miles Judd missed out on proceedings, six loan signings of which only five can be permitted in a matchday squad, the suspension for Tomi Adeloye bringing the need for Muhammadu Faal to return to the bench.

As per the Yeovil game last Tuesday evening the visitors could have had the lead inside the first minute, running straight through the Bees midfield forcing a save out of Scott Loach who gathered at the second attempt.

However, the Bees settled in the game from that moment although Loach was called into action again just before the ten minute marker to twice keep the scoreline level.

The formation allowed JJ Hooper some support in the final third although it lacked the guile and fleet footed play of Michael Petrasso, Courtney Baker-Richardson prodding and probing but no clear cut chances to test the visitor’s keeper Christian Dibble.

Just as it appeared the sides would go in level at the break Wrexham took the lead four minutes before the interval. The Bees cleared the initial ball into the box but with no midfielder close to closing down Luke Young, the midfielder rifled the ball past Loach into the top corner.

The beginning of the second half saw the Bees on top for the first period, but still the lack of penetration in front of goal wasn’t going to bring success. There were however two chances for Barnet to draw level, firstly Antony Wordsworth’s effort was deflected just over the bar five minutes into the half whilst the best chance for the home side arrived just after the hour mark Baker-Richardson was put clean through by James Dunne but a strong save by Dibble kept the visitors in front.

A succession of changes over the following ten minutes looked to interrupt the momentum and rhythm the Bees had from which they never recovered from and nine minutes from time Wrexham made the points safe after a fine strike from Lewis Durrell which gave Loach no chance, no challenge once again on the man with the ball and the home side paid for it falling to yet another defeat.

While the formation made Barnet a bit more secure it came at the expense of any creativity in the final third from the likes of Petrasso or Ephron Mason-Clark. As per most games the Bees looked unlikely to score and in all honesty Wrexham didn’t need to go through the gears to win.

It’s hard to work out where the club goes to get another win, supporters expect the team to lose or be thumped in the process and are grateful for the latter not happening. It’s also difficult to put your finger on what exactly is the problem, players not good enough, players not listening, players not wanting to be there, a combination of all three or something else?

I’m sure without checking back it’s similar to what I said last week, this time around they’ve had seven days without a game, which is a luxury this season given the time frame for getting games played, to work on a pattern but it looked to have little effect over the course of the ninety minutes.

Lee Vaughan had a steady debut at right wing back despite picking up a needless booking, discipline which has been a problem since day one. The Alexander McQueen experiment in central midfield isn’t working, his free kicks and corner kicks practice isn’t having an effect on matchdays we must have better options surely.

Up front we have two strikers without a single goal in black and amber since they joined which compounds the problem and in both Faal and Baker-Richardson neither looks the solution to the goalscoring problem but the reality might be we’re not going to get any better replacements this time in the season.

No news still from the National League nor the FA at the time of writing as to their plans for Step 2 and whether relegation is invoked at the end of May, we’re stuck where we are and in reality you can’t see where a win is coming from.

Back twelve months after Woking away Barnet were on a run of one defeat in 18 games, after the same Tuesday in 2021 it’s a run of one win in 21 games, it’s a staggering turnaround from where the club was heading and the discontent you can see from the fans reactions on Twitter becomes more and more, a fractured fan base once again, how many times can one man burn his bridges with the people who put income into his football club, it’s becoming like groundhog day…….

Patience starting to wear thin

Tuesday evening under lights at The Hive. Another Tuesday, and another chance to get a National League win but the games are ebbing slowly away in what is still a surreal season of watching games taking place in an empty stadium via video links.

The last time Barnet met Yeovil was in the play-offs in June, I was sitting at The Hive watching the game with fellow Bees fans in the Legends Bar, a 2-0 win with goals from Paul McCallum and Mauro Vilhete, a memory that seems a very long time ago but not even a year old such is the weight this current season puts on the mind.

The highlights before this game of last season’s opening day encounter, the cheers and sight of fans inside the stadium, a win courtesy of a Simeon Akinola penalty, pleasure once more but nostalgic.

Expectations going into a game now are so different, Saturday at Hartlepool was about keeping the score down and not embarrassing ourselves on national television, against Yeovil, well keep it competitive, sad how far we’ve fallen in the space of nine months or so.

An unchanged team was expected against a Glovers side who a few months back were below the Bees after a tough start to the new campaign although a good run of results through December and January moved the side away from the relegation zone.

From the off, it was evidently clear which way this game was going, Scott Loach called upon to tip the ball round the post with less than a minute on the clock after the Glovers were able to just run at the Barnet defence, a theme that then occurred for ninety plus minutes to come.

One struggle all season has been defending set pieces or restarts as Tim Flowers likes to call them and once again they were the undoing of Barnet.

Just twelve minutes on the clock and a corner clipped in was blocked by Dunne on the line, but the rebound prodded home by Jimmy Smith. Whilst we digested going behind yet again, Barnet conceded again just sixty seconds later, another corner into the box and Billy Sass-Davies unmarked headed down and into the net as the Glovers extended their lead.

But then out of nowhere, the Bees reduced the deficit, from a set piece of their own, JJ Hooper with a hooked shot into the top corner giving Adam Smith no chance, mad fifteen minutes and three goals in the game.

The Glovers eased off a little after that, likely surprised that Barnet had indeed found the net, that being my primary concern before the game we’d forgotten where it was. Once again though it was as good as it got for the Bees over the course of the game as ill-discipline took over.

Tomi Adeloye picked up a yellow card for a foul just before the half hour mark followed by a second and a red card seven minutes later for blocking a free kick, the referee causing some confusion by not realising immediately he had already booked Adeloye earlier and the Bees left to play an hour with ten men and a goal behind.

Adeloye’s contribution since arriving late last week is no shots on target that I can recall, a yellow card on his Saturday debut and now a one match ban for the Tuesday night sending off, leave you to make of that what you will.

Flowers tried something different at half time withdrawing skipper James Dunne for centre back Themis Kefalas to go three at the back with a slight push on for Miles Judd and Richard Taylor but within five minutes of the restart Loach was forced into two more smart saves to keep the Bees within one goal of the visitors.

The change failed to work and ended up with Kefalas moving into central midfield to allow Alexander McQueen to head out to the right hand side where once again an opposing team was getting most joy at working the ball into the box.

Just before the hour mark Yeovil put their mark on the three points, Rhys Murphy getting in front of McQueen to flick the ball goal wards surprising Loach who was unable to keep it out.

Judd’s miscued cross gave Smith something to think about in the Glovers goal, tipping the ball over the bar and the closest the Bees came to a second. Chasing the game with ten men for so long allowed Yeovil to dictate the play with Barnet merely feeding on scraps and the visitors wrapped it up with a fourth goal ten minutes from time Josh Neufville curling home with Loach well beaten to send the Bees to yet another defeat.

I could easily cut and paste week after week at the moment, nothing changes in the positive with each passing game. One win in twenty games between two managers and a shed load of players isn’t doing anything except carry on in the wrong direction.

Ten goals shipped in the last three games tells its own story, but the back four are now all Flowers’ players, how long do you give it? The ball doesn’t stick up front, the midfielders are not box to box players so do you change your tactics to suit what you have for this season until you can get the personnel you want?

Blame can be accredited in lots of areas, we can go back to the end of those play-off games to start the trail, many a conversation has been had across social media in the last 24 hours. Tony Kleanthous should have moved quicker from that point to part ways with Darren Currie, the meeting took too long to happen which then delayed the appointment of Peter Beadle and the signing of players.

No time for a decent pre-season and players to bed in, Beadle was already falling off the tightrope then and the wobble was beginning. Out of his depth and then gone, Flowers brought in after not being good enough for the job in the summer, squad enlarges but results don’t change so what do you do now?

Do you say thanks it’s not any better than the last chap and change managers again? Whoever is in charge is going to have to get a tune out of the 30 odd pro’s we have on the books, the question is though why isn’t Flowers getting tunes out of the players he has brought in?

There could be a divide between three sets of players, some not listening to what is being asked of them and the others trying to implement and the end result is nothing.

We are where we are because we deserve to be, it’s not been anywhere near good enough and while the chairman and managers can shoulder the actions as to why we are looking ahead full steam at relegation the players all need to step up and prove they’ve got something to get the club out of the mess.

There is growing concern that underneath us some of the North and South clubs will play on which means relegation is likely to be back on the agenda, that decision will not be known for a few more days but if that doesn’t get things twitching around The Hive then we might just as well pack up, furlough, and accept a place in the National League South next year.

Maybe now is not the time for inquisitions etc, but something must change very very quickly but in all likelihood there aren’t very many signs to show that it will and across social media its plain to see that a lot of fans have now given up watching streams etc and a fanbase that was united last season is now fractured once again through a series of miscalculated decisions, now where have we heard that one before…………

Poor run continues for shot shy Bees

The trepidation of another game for the black and amber of Barnet is not doing many any favours as we wait to come out of the third lockdown. After Tuesday’s 5-1 capitulation at fellow strugglers Kings Lynn Town, in-form Hartlepool was the next destination for Tim Flowers side, the home team on a run of seven home wins in a row.

Another week brought more signings, striker Tomi Adeloye arriving on a short term deal whilst Richard Taylor signed on loan from League Two Southend Utd to fill the left back berth and with it a now completely replaced back four from those who started this season.

To cap it all the game was being televised live to the nation on BT Sport, I was going to be happy at the score being kept down to three in favour of the Monkey Hangers.

There was a little uncertainty as to the formation when the Bees lined up, but rather than Alexander McQueen taking up a right wing role and a 4-4-2, the winger-cum-full back was employed in central midfield alongside James Dunne and Harry Taylor while Adeloye made his debut more as a right winger within the three up front.

Whilst the Bees had a fairly bright start it was plain to see possession was going to be at a minimum for the visitors and although it took a while for Pool to get going once they did, the evening wasn’t going to get much better.

Cross after cross were finding their way into the penalty area with consummate ease but the Bees defended most well and a superb point blank save from Scott Loach kept the scores level just before the half hour mark.

JJ Hooper then had Barnet’s best chance of the afternoon, put through on goal but denied by the legs of Ben Killip and that was as good as it got in the final third for the visitors.

A couple of minutes after that chance, the home side took the lead with the ever dangerous Luke Armstrong turning the ball home after yet another unchallenged cross in the Bees box. Another smart save from Loach five minutes before half time kept the home side to just a single goal before the interval.

The second half saw Pool completely dominate and a combination of poor finishing and more fine stops from Loach that kept the scoreline to a single goal, Armstrong on another day could easily have had a hat-trick and Barnet dead and buried by half time. Despite only one goal between the two sides, the Bees looked unlikely to score at all and while a single goal defeat looks like an improvement on past performances it could well have been another thumping and no likelihood of pulling a goal out of the bag.

Taylor looked reasonable at left back despite having not played much football this season, Adeloye didn’t affect the game at all and was not surprisingly substituted after the hour mark, match fitness lacking also.

It’s still a worry that after now three months in the job Flowers has only picked up the one win and not much improvement on the pitch, the players either don’t understand what is being asked or just can’t carry it out.

The squad is now the size of a small country with most not likely to find themselves in the manager’s plans again this season unless a sudden rush of injuries present themselves, indeed we have six current loanees at the time of writing with only five permitted in matchday sixteen’s, bit baffling really!

It looks like we have three squads within one massive one, those from last year who don’t fit the style, Beadle’s budget buys and the ones Flowers has brought in and none of them are gelling very well.

How much more the chairman will fund is unclear, any more I would expect to be short term signings to the end of the season. The FA ratification can’t come quick enough so the club can work out if they are still in danger of relegation or whether players are playing for a contract for next season under reduced match conditions, squad numbers certainly won’t diminish with nowhere for the out of favour players to head to on loan and unlikely to take a contract pay off either.

All in all, the same sorry mess it looks from week to week, Yeovil at home this Tuesday, while we might keep the score down again, you just can’t see us troubling the scorers at the right end, oh well only a few more games to go…………..

Work to do for Flowers and Barnet

With so little football going on it’s harder to find the motivation to write a blog, trotting out the same National League disasters and if you don’t include Barnet FC in that last bit then we’re singing from different song sheets.

Almost twelve months on from that last seen game at Woking, the club is unrecognisable. I’m not a naïve person by any stretch of the imagination, this season was always going to be a nadir compared to the previous campaign but I had been expecting to make a better fist of it.

The relentless Saturday/Tuesday combination was in force once again this midweek as the Bees travelled to fellow strugglers Kings Lynn Town which would have closed the gap between the two clubs to three points with a Barnet win. Town’s financial problems are no secret and without news of further funding coming their way after this weekend’s home game with Weymouth they are unlikely to kick another ball in anger this season.

After Saturday’s flat and leggy performance against Woking, Tim Flowers would have been expecting an improved performance against a side one place better off than his team in the table but with a win at The Hive earlier in the season already in the bag.

Streaming away games for a fan has been hit and miss from what I read across message boards for the National League, indeed Barnet have had their fair share at the beginning of the season, but credit to the club on that side of things they have got it right.

Now we’re in February I really expect these things to work a lot more smoothly as we’re months into the season not games and for this stream to cut out after about five minutes and not be able to access it for another 15 minutes is pretty poor, no apology given either so I can only assume the home club had no idea or didn’t care. I’ll give them the tiny bit of credit for replying to my Twitter message pretty quickly.

Whilst unable to watch the action, the home side scored twice courtesy of ex-Bee Michael Gash, I’d love to be able to tell you if they were well in the ascendancy or poor defending but alas I couldn’t see, maybe a good thing in all respects.

I can only assume as well from tweets by fellow Bees fans that Jack Connors struggled at left back for match fitness having not been involved on the pitch under Flowers so far and was substituted for Alex McQueen straight after the second goal, just as my stream came back to life.

The Bees finally found their way onto the scoresheet just before the half hour mark, Scott Loach’s long goal kick put JJ Hooper in behind the Lynn defence and he halved the deficit. That though was as good as it got for Barnet for the remainder of the game.

Ten minutes later a superb save from Loach prevented Gash from completing a first half hat-trick, the home side going into the interval 2-1 in front, a danger from every set piece they had and Barnet looking like lost rabbits in headlights every time the ball came into the box.

The Linnets should have extended their lead through Sonny Carey five minutes after the re-start, his shot cannoning off the bar and away to safety. Just after the hour mark the game was effectively put out of reach for the Bees as Cameron King finished off a fine move after good work from Adam Marriott.

Then came the icing on the cake for the home side in the final five minutes as Dayle Southwell and Marriott scored within a minute of each other and leave last Tuesday’s win over Halifax as an almost long distant memory.

The win lifted the Linnets out of the bottom three replaced by Weymouth who have a seven point cushion to Barnet, the Bees with two games in hand but the way performances are starting to pan out again that’s pretty hollow.

I’ll admit I didn’t really watch much of the second half, I spent more time following the angry tweets on Twitter from Bees fans and answering messages, it enthralled me that much, pretty much similar when writing this it’s losing its motivation.

Flowers after the game bemoaned the restarts we don’t contest but the sessions are there in training so what is the problem? Are the players not good enough? Mentally can they not take things from one pitch to another? Is it a combination of both or is it something else?

I would say my own opinion is that of a combination of both. No disrespect to those pulling on the shirt, but clearly some cannot compete at this level, they’re getting found out every week. It took Eastleigh just forty-five minutes in the opening game of the season to work out how to beat us and almost everyone has since.

It’s alarming to see how some of last season’s good players have regressed so much this year, is it down to the players around them now compared to last year, are they not able to carry out the instructions wanted because they are mentally not tuned into things?

Having to rely on the FA ratification of the National League vote to avoid relegation is cheap, desperate, but the ways things are going on the pitch it’s the only saving grace.

Not to take anything away from either Woking or Kings Lynn, but full time professionals should be putting in a better shift than this, the cohesion should be tighter.

Tuesday night was the ninth time in 21 league games the Bees had conceded at least three times in a game, any Hartlepool fans reading this must be placing a bet of themselves scoring at least three, what price then a thumping in front of the BT Sport cameras this coming weekend……..

Bees bag vital win

It’s back to Barnet on this blog, in fact a good couple of weeks since the Bees were last in action. Not much has changed in the world since then apart from ructions all over the National League but that can be for another blog.

Halifax Town. 2nd December, my birthday last year and Beadle’s collection on the way to a massive thumping, 5-0 down after an hour whilst I was making my way round London in Steve McKimm’s cab as a birthday treat to myself, better than the one the Bees would have delivered if I’d watched the stream instead.

Two and a half months on from then Barnet are in a position where draws are no good and wins only are welcome against a backdrop of uncertainty with regards to when, if, or maybe the National League will see a conclusion in any of it’s three divisions. In these times though professionalism is the only thing that can shine through and it’s been a tough ask for Tim Flowers and his staff with what they inherited, but that’s the reason they are now in the job.

There have been signs at times that things are coming together, new players incoming and a more compact team shape. Two recent postponements while might not have helped in getting a run together for results, you only have to look at Eastleigh currently, no covid or weather interruptions and now on a very good run.

What it has done though is allow Flowers to work harder on that team shape and expectation and give them time to gel the team together despite all the uncertainty off the pitch.

It’s pretty fair to say we were owed a performance from that December night, the same can be said when Woking visit The Hive this coming Saturday. Of course there are many differences from those two games to now and on Tuesday evening it certainly looked as if that training ground work and cohesion of team ethic and shape is beginning to bear fruit.

The early exchanges were fairly even as both sides settled into the game, an early chance for Courtney Baker-Richardson who got in front of his man but not enough purchase on it to trouble Halifax stopper Sam Johnson. At the other end Scott Loach made a fine save to deny the visitors the lead on 13 minutes, the impressive Jeff King at the hub of everything going forward for the Yorkshire outfit.

Liam Daly had a half chance to open his Bees account, a half volley which he cut across and ended up just past the post mid-way through the half. The visitors were enjoying more of the possession but Barnet looked dangerous when breaking forward and the Bees took the lead just after the half hour mark.

A marauding run from winger Michael Petrasso saw the Canadian let fly from around 20 yards and the ball slip through the fingers of Johnson to put Barnet in front for the second game running. The goal was Petrasso’s seventh of an injury hit season, a touch of class added to every game he plays in a Bees shirt.

Against both Aldershot and Altrincham in recent weeks Barnet were unable to hold onto a lead and you could only hope game management has been worked upon to defend a goal advantage.

It actually got better for the Bees before the half time whistle, Antony Wordsworth with what can only be described as a peach, a belter, a worldie, hit a half volley that just arrowed past Johnson and into his top left hand corner. Significant because it was the first time Barnet had been in front by two goals all season, we’re in February, you can tell how the season has really gone! And the last time we scored twice in a league match, yes away to Halifax!

Barnet being Barnet couldn’t go in 2-0 up though, immediately after Wordsworth’s wonder strike the Shaymen went down the other end and reduced the deficit in stoppage time King left unmarked at the far post and rifled the ball past Loach.

What you would have expected from that point based on the season so far was for Barnet to capitulate, but what I noticed as they walked off the pitch was the body language of the players, a sense of disappointment they’d let a goal in rather than that goal’s gone in and downhill we go from here, hard to explain but it looked more than it wasn’t going to faze them.

Sure enough it didn’t. As mentioned above the game management for the second half was spot on, every player carried out exactly what they needed to do.

Unsurprisingly the Shaymen threw everything at Barnet, but to a man they were equal to it all from JJ Hooper at the front to the back four, indeed Loach had no serious saves to make to ensure the Bees recorded their first win in 100 days and move off the bottom of the National League table.

It’s almost unfair to pick out from what was probably the best team performance of the season but here goes! Myles Judd as a loan player has had a stop start spell with suspension and games called off and looked like he wasn’t quite up to speed before last night, but that 90 minutes everywhere in the right place for an interception and as Flowers says he likes a tackle, can easily see this becoming a loan until the end of the season should his form continue.

Jerome Binnom-Williams has rightly taken some criticism across social media this season, nothing vile thankfully but a lot of questions around his time on the pitch. Yes, he went missing for the goal Halifax scored but beyond that he did what I think Flowers is asking for, just defend. A long way to go still for this guy but it’s finally looking like he understands what is required of him.

We now have two centre halves in Liam Daly and Ben Richards-Everton who just defend, head, foot, body, whatever is needed, we don’t need anything else there. Goals at set pieces will begin to come next I feel, one routine almost came off with Daly’s shot just off target from Richards-Everton’s header back across goal.

Hooper another one whose been in question as times, for me held the ball up better than he has done all season and put himself about more, also now understanding more what’s being required of him no doubt? Even when Muhammadu Faal came on for the last nine minutes, there was more correlation in his play to be in the right position and make it hard for the opposition.

As stated above Woking at home this weekend, a chance for back to back wins and another side we owe a performance against. The away game was the first time after watching Beadle’s post-match interview that I felt he didn’t know where to go from that game and downhill it went more rapidly after that.

100 days is a long time in the world of blogging and football, let’s hope it’s only going to be four days until the next victory, good news and joy is a rarity at the moment………

What next for beleaguered Bees?

Blogging straight after a game is never a good idea and something I never try to do; it clouds sometimes what could or should be said and I prefer to get a balanced opinion across.

I’m also finding it’s get harder to write a balanced article when it comes to Barnet FC, I don’t think many will disagree with that either and there aren’t too many now believing the club is heading anything than other in a constant downward spiral.

Tuesday night’s defeat to bottom placed Dover Athletic put the Bees at a new low, replacing the Crabble based outfit at the foot of the table and looking like an out of control juggernaut that can’t be stopped.

Where do you begin to start? Losing a ‘six-pointer’ against the only side worse off than you in the table? Starting the season under prepared? Appointing the wrong manager? Letting go of a better manager? The buck stops at the top? So many questions, so many answers, so many opinions.

Well, let’s start with the most recent, Tuesday night at Dover. The conditions were monsoon-like but the same for both sides throughout the 90 minutes and one side were up for it more than the other.

As I would expect for an Andy Hessenthaler side they were up for the biggest game of their season so far, listening to the commentators they stated that the Whites had indeed put in some better performances over the last few weeks and maybe this was a performance coming. On the other side it was also Barnet’s biggest game as well but too many in white and amber didn’t show up, now whether that is down to ability, the players picked, the formation, the lack of conviction that a win could be garnered, maybe a combination of the lot?

Being led to believe that Tim Flowers and Hessy both interviewed in the summer for the job at The Hive, if either had been in from the beginning Barnet would not be sitting in the position they are now. I know our budget despite being chopped is still around mid-table in the National League, the performances on the pitch are far detached from that.

The lateness of appointing Peter Beadle in the first place, a man with a lack of knowledge at National League level has possibly set the tone for the season, almost like tomorrow will do, well those tomorrow’s run out every time a game is lost.

Sixteen games has shown he was the wrong appointment as many expected upon his arrival, and now we’re in a desperate battle to preserve a National League status that shouldn’t be in question.

The cost of now rescuing the season will be more than could have been used keeping Darren Currie and Junior Lewis in the summer. I know the reasons why they aren’t there, but I do know both still care deeply about the club as I speak to both and are alarmed at how quick the fall as been, two years ago we were selling out The Hive to take on Brentford in the FA Cup 4th round, how quick things can change.

The buck ultimately stops at the top of the tree, that we can’t deny. Downhill Second Half podcast pulled up on Twitter today a quote from Tony Kleanthous from 2017, stating where the club would be in 5 years’ time ‘simply we just need to get to League One ASAP’, we’re a million miles away from that.

At the end of the day, he appoints the manager who spends the budget and puts the players on the pitch, the latter bit he can’t control but it stems from the initial appointment and as he is in control of that and him only the fair share of blame has to be apportioned to him.

I am concerned Tim is not going to get a tune out of most of the players he inherited. His post-match interview pretty much confirmed that with the ‘you’re with me or we shake hands and you move on’, time has run out quickly for some.

And as he also commented on last night that he had to change formation again to try and get something out of the game, the personnel is not there to do what he demands which puts us at a bit of a crossroads.

The players do need to accept some responsibility, I know they are prepped well enough, Liam Daly has said as much on Twitter, Loachy would say the same, but for some reason it’s either not getting through or they’re not good enough to execute a game plan.

Do you now waste more money getting rid of those who just aren’t up to the standard required to get results in this division and then spend more to get in the right personnel to ensure survival? Much of that question will only be answered by what happens to the National League South over the coming weeks if they do indeed null and void their season which would give Barnet a free pass for the season.

That in itself is good reason not to spend any more money until it is decided one way or the other. Personally, I expect the National League itself to continue and finish the season because there surely would some ramifications from the Football League over promotion to and relegation from League Two, looking at the current table before Wednesday night’s games just two points separates seventh and sixteenth in the table, why wouldn’t those chairman want a crack at the play-offs and possible promotion?

NB This was written before the ‘statement’ issued from Tony Kleanthous which didn’t really tell us an awful lot as per usual.

Winless run for Barnet continues

Getting to watch a streamed game is back to being the best you can get for non-league football, not a chance of seeing live action for many more months if we’re honest. There is now also the real risk of the National League following the North and South divisions requesting a halt to the season over funding issues. But, for now it’s make the most of the opportunity against what are testing times for everyone across the country and the world.

Saturday was the first viewing of watch Barnet since Jan 2nd when they were comprehensively beaten by local rivals Boreham Wood at The Hive to deepen their relegation fears. Since then positive covid tests have confined Tim Flowers men to isolation and the training ground only, but with time for the new manager to work on patterns of play and formations.

As expected three new defenders signed during that barren period, Liam Daly, and Ben Richards-Everton permanently and Themis Kefalas on loan from Championship side QPR but as of yet still lacking the potent striker.

The visit of high flying Altrincham to North London would prove a stern test with the newcomers having won, lost and drawn six each of their games so far sitting in 6th spot at the start of play, Flowers Barnet needing wins rather than draws even with thirty games left to play this season.

Fielding a more attack minded side than has been seen this year Barnet had to throw a little caution to the wind, as stated just above the precarious nature of not only their league position but huge uncertainty as to whether there will be a conclusion to the season in the coming months which if settled by other means than on the pitch could result in relegation.

The Robins have impressed many so far since their promotion and have built a strong side, able to break at speed and that was evident throughout the full ninety minutes when any Barnet attack broke down.

The visitors looked the more likely to create the early openings, enjoying larger spells of possession than the hosts but it was Barnet who took the lead on 14 minutes, JJ Hooper back in the side after injury robbed a Robins defender of the ball and ran through unchallenged to slot the ball past Tony Thompson pretty much against the run of play.

Not that it did much to deter the visitors, their continued pattern of getting the ball down the flanks continued but without really causing the Bees too many problems. But they were back on level terms when Matty Kosylo who was a constant danger all afternoon managed to squeeze a shot through a crowd of players and beyond Scott Loach for the equaliser. Neither side created a clear cut chance after although there was an effort former Bee Byron Harrison could have converted for a Robins half time lead.

The same player missed a real guilt edged chance very early after the re-start which really should have put the visitors in front, Flowers responding with a change of formation as the game wore on to counter the constant pressure heading towards his team’s goal.

Despite this it took until stoppage time with a 2 versus 1 overload down the Bees right hand side, the ball finding its way onto the head of Robins defender Josh Hancock to flick the ball past Loach and the points were heading north.

Whilst this was a much better Bees performance defensively despite the loss the lack of presence in the final third is still alarming. Both Pavey and Hooper ran out of steam long before the end of the game, lack of match fitness for both is very evident and ninety minutes in the tank despite not much of a second half showing was needed for both players.

Good to see Michael Petrasso back from injury as well but without the front men gambling in the box some of the balls he played in today deserved better. Much depends on whether the chairman will gamble on more players given the nature of what is going on off the pitch with the National League which might put a halt on things for a lot of clubs and what we have now is what we  have to utilise for the foreseeable future, big game at Dover on Tuesday night where nothing less than three points can be settled for.

Despite the fact this would have been a good point the gap to safety and then beyond is looking a tall order given it’s run of eleven league games without a win that stretches back to October, wins are at a premium and while defensively it was an improvement today it has to get much better in front of goal or should the season continue then relegation is very much looking a reality.

Roughly 40 more points are going to be required from the 29 games remaining the points are there to be played for, whether there is enough within the squad to get those points remains to be seen, null and void for the season would seem an ideal dream if you’re a Bees fan……….

Back the boss or survival we won’t make

Well, where do we go from here? Having just sat through Barnet getting tanked by local rivals Boreham Wood in front of the nation on BT Sport, it’s no wonder I’m writing this one with a bottle of beer beside me! I think to describe what Barnet FC look to me and many others as a shambles or utter embarrassment is the polite way of looking at it.

Really the only way is up given we are currently second from bottom, three points off Dover Athletic who have four games in hand while the gap going the other way is growing week on week while the Bees look cast adrift.

I don’t doubt Tim Flowers knew the size of the task when he stepped in the door at The Hive a few weeks ago, this evening he is under no illusion now. The display against Wood goes deeper than just this one game, this has been the pattern of the previous 13 games and is why the goal difference of now minus 24 and just 11 goals in the opposition net, that might be this season but again it goes even deeper than that.

You can go back as far as 2010 when it comes to managerial appointments that haven’t worked appointed by the chairman Tony Kleanthous, well even further if you count Tony Cottee, Mark Stimson, Lawrie Sanchez and of course the saviour of the vision in Mark Robson in 2012. Enter Edgar Davids that time to drag the club to the final day of the season which when he arrived they had no right to get that far, but ultimately unable to stay in the Football League.

Then we have the debacle of 2017-18, five managers in a year. Nugent, Eames, McGhee, Westley, Allen, the latter arriving like Davids with the club rooted to the foot of the table but with less time and games to invoke the ‘Great Escape’, as per Davids taken to the final day but again not enough and relegation once again to the National League and to today’s bottom three position currently staring relegation to the National League South, yes I kid you not, that is the stark reality of the situation.

Ten league games without a win shows the mess the club is in; Beadle quite rightly was sacked well out of his depth. His appointment was made far too late into the summer, he wasn’t even a name mentioned in dispatches and his recruitment was poor. Being based towards the West Country and having operated mostly below National League level, it was remarked to me ‘what does he know about players at that level’ and ‘does he know his budget won’t go far on London players’.

That person wasn’t far wrong I can tell you from what we see in front of us. Did Darren Currie do the right thing and protect his fledgling reputation given that we heard the budget wasn’t big enough to rebuild the squad? I know from speaking to people within the game our budget is still not too shoddy for that division so to me that suggests Beadle didn’t know what was good enough for it to be spent on.

The cheaper or untested option hasn’t worked in the past Robson being the prime example but at least Davids had something to work with including sticking himself out there to play, Flowers has not been left with a lot and those who are decent enough are shorn of any confidence.

So far two more have arrived on loan in Ben Fox and Myles Judd, both impressing with a debut red card, not the fault of the boss but when you’re down there needing fighters, missing players are not much help. Flowers alluded to a couple more players coming in next week, so with Beadle and Jenkins seemingly paid off, Flowers coming in with a backroom staff and four players so far when more are going to be needed, would it not have been more sensible to have done this first time around in the summer especially when it’s understood Flowers interviewed then?

I don’t like to dig players out as under-performers, can be any number of reasons for it but what I saw tonight was a player who looked the route cause of the defensive issues.

When Ben Nugent was signed, pedigree looked what we needed with a solid amount of Football League appearances and I felt if that is the calibre we could get then the season might not turn out so bad. But for a six foot odd centre half who is incapable of defending with his head, you can’t excuse that. Three assists he picked up tonight for the opposition and one poor clearance went backwards for nearly a fourth only for another fine save from Scott Loach, who if it wasn’t for the Bees keeper we would have been five or six goals down by half time.

Leadership from senior players with that experience you expect better but you watch the same on repeat from week to week it wears a little thin and he must be one of the first to be sitting things out.

The finer point of tonight’s ramblings? Unless Kleanthous backs Flowers for exactly what he wants and needs just for the club to survive then National League South is where the club will be come next season, it is nowhere near strong enough on the pitch and whilst others around us are now starting to pick up points and many have games in hand on us improvement has to start this coming Monday.

The buck stops at the chairman’s door, no question, and not for the first time. At the time in the summer when he went for Beadle and not someone with the experience to manage at this level coupled with the later start to the season it was either going to be a wise move not to spend loads or blow up badly which the current position says we’re in the latter category.

The only thing on our side is the fact there are still plenty of points to play for but with no backing we might as well pack up and take the relegation now. Flowers has the ability and passion for Barnet to survive in the National League but stop messing around with the club, us as supporters deserve better.

Flowers checks in at The Hive

No sooner had the ink dried on the ‘Beadle gone’ blog than the new man was in place at The Hive with chairman Tony Kleanthous wasting no time to trying to repair the mess the club once again finds itself in.

Last weekend I had heard rumours from two different sources and then a third during the week that Tim Flowers was indeed lined up after the Wealdstone game to take over from Peter Beadle. Nothing materialised and Barnet went on to record back to back defeats against Stockport and Chesterfield.

Eight days later Beadle was gone and then speculation amounted to who was the next manager to lead the charge back up to the right end of the table. I had my own preferences, some personal, some from the point of view of what or who I felt was needed.

Flowers himself was on my list of names I expected to be mentioned. A man with a decent career in the Premier League, in fact a winner of said competition at Blackburn Rovers. He did interview in the summer but subsequently not offered the job and pitched up at Macclesfield Town before they succumbed to extinction. So, why wasn’t he appointed those few months ago?

Many will point to Beadle having been the cheaper option having not managed at this level before, Flowers’ stint at Solihull Moors looked upon as a good grounding albeit with a more than a decent sized budget but his record of winning almost half of his games in charge that is the kind of thing you look very favourably at if he can replicate that for Barnet.

Whilst to an extent you can understand the cautiousness with no income and the on-going saga with the pandemic going for the cheaper option has brought on this scenario before and now as then it’s going to cost far more to rectify the situation than could have been the case with the right appointment back in late August.

If it’s to be believed, Flowers wasn’t the man in reality. During yesterday it was widely expected that Dean Brennan the current Wealdstone manager was signed, sealed, and delivered but it appears that fell through and Flowers became the go to man. How close if at all that was maybe we’ll never know but as always another fun day in the life of being a Barnet fan!

If Flowers is given the budget to build what he had at Solihull then Barnet will become hard to beat, it might not be a pretty game at times with a more direct way of playing than we’ve been used to over the past couple of years.

Whether he believes there is enough quality there remains to be seen over the coming weeks, personally I believe the squad is not good enough to be where we want to be, whether that was down to budget restrictions or a lack of intel when bringing these players in I’m not sure of.

Having listened to the first interview this afternoon, it sounded good, liked what I heard and those that don’t shape up will ship out I have no doubt, certainly going to be playing to strengths in the final third with the pace of Ephron Mason-Clark and Josh Walker when he returns, someone who knows how to unlock JJ Hooper, seems fairly keen on Wes Fonguck.

I don’t doubt he’s under any illusion of the task ahead and I’m also interested to see who forms his backroom team as well, those guys can be just as important in delivering the message through to the players.

So Bees fans there we have it, another former England goalkeeper takes the reins, following in the footsteps of the late great Ray Clemence, time for our season to turn itself around and I’m far more pleased this time that Tony’s actually read my blog and picked a name I listed………..